Twice all-conference star leads Hawks
Swingsets are common backyard entertainment for grade schoolers. Hermantown senior middle hitter Jessie Ebel had a sand volleyball court in hers. Prior to moving to Hermantown in fourth grade, the Hawks' captain familiarized herself with the spor...
Swingsets are common backyard entertainment for grade schoolers. Hermantown senior middle hitter Jessie Ebel had a sand volleyball court in hers.
Prior to moving to Hermantown in fourth grade, the Hawks' captain familiarized herself with the sport in her Monticello yard.
Volleyball is a family affair for the Ebels. Dad played a lot of sand volleyball and brought it to the home. Jessie's sister Erin finished her career at Hermantown in 2003 and her little sister Cortney follows in both sets of footsteps as a freshman on the junior varsity team.
"I spent a lot of time just dinking around with the ball," Ebel said of her elementary years.
Beth Clark, the Hawks' head coach, is glad the Ebels relocated.
"We have had a number of players go through our program with great volleyball talent," Clark said. "Her talent is right up there with these players. She works hard and has put in a lot of time into the game."
The program earned the Lake Superior Conference title the two past seasons and is aligned for a three-peat.
Prior to Ebel's stint on the varsity squad, Hermantown hadn't topped the conference since it shared the title with Duluth East and Proctor in 1991.
Ebel was Hermantown's leading hitter and earned all-conference honors in both title campaigns.
She notched 130 kills with 85 blocks in 2002 and 297 kills with 185 blocks as a junior. Ebel also recorded 32 ace serves in 2003.
Through seven matches this season Ebel has vaulted the squad to a 6-1-0 record, amassing 75 kills and 10 serving aces.
St. Francis ended the Hawks season in the section semifinals last year, only the team's second loss of the season. The Fighting Saints are one of two teams Ebel singled out for retaliation.
The other is Hibbing, which represents the lone mark in the loss column this year. "We haven't made it to a section final," Ebel said. "If we do, we're hoping it's Hibbing."
Given her upbringing, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Ebel is dedicated to the sport.
"Volleyball is always on my mind," she said. "That's who I am. Volleyball is me."
Dedication for a standout high school athlete runs deep. Ebel quit basketball in tenth grade to focus on volleyball and plays competitive ball year-round to hone her skills.
From January to June it's Club North league across the state, while the summer months are spent competing in Virginia and helping at youth camps.
"I don't have much free time," Ebel said late Friday afternoon during the 30- minute window between the end of practice and her shift at Gander Mountain.
Working 20 hours a week while attending school and attempting to lead a team to its first section final since moving to class AAA is heady stuff for a high school senior. But it's all preparation for Ebel.
She is set on playing college ball and said she has been contacted by coaches from Bemidji State and UMD.
Clark is confident Ebel has the qualities to be successful on the next stage. "She's very respectful and has a great rapport with players and coaches," Clark said. "She has those natural leadership capabilities."
The Hawks will head to the range to play in the Crosby Invitational Saturday before facing Duluth Marshall Tuesday and Duluth Denfeld Thursday.